The world is changing and we all have to change with it. In the automotive industry, the most obvious shift happening right now is from gasoline- and diesel-powered engines to fully electric motors.
Car buyers, car manufacturers, and governments at all levels are getting on board, and that means car dealerships need to get on board, too.
But, making the shift from selling primarily internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs) isn’t just a matter of replacing one set of inventory with the other. They are so fundamentally different that it requires a whole new way of thinking about vehicles and how you talk to customers about them.
When you’re ready, a Blink representative can help you accurately assess the need for your dealership facility.
Here are a few steps your dealership should take to ensure it is ready to sell EVs:
Install EV infrastructure
Perhaps the most obvious step is to install EV charging stations at the dealership to ensure EVs are always topped up with juice for test drives and so buyers can leave the lot with a full battery.
Dealerships will likely require at least one Direct Current Fast Charger (DCFC) and may also want to install a number of Level 2 charging stations, as well.
A combination of DCFCs and the less costly Level 2 chargers would probably be best for most dealerships.
If a dealership decides that it wants to also offer public charging, it can install a custom-branded charging station as a free amenity to customers, and generate income from a parking space.
How many charging stations a dealership needs and what types they need will depend on their budget and the demand for EVs in their area. While it’s true installing EV charging infrastructure does have some upfront costs involved, it helps to view the installation of it as an investment in the business. This investment will reap rewards as EVs become the majority of vehicles sold, something the federal government and automobile executives believe will happen as soon as, or before, 2030.
Train sales and maintenance teams
Vehicle buyers have a hundred questions about any potential vehicles they want to purchase and they expect the salesperson to be able to confidently answer these questions.
During this transitional phase, many potential EV buyers will require knowledge not only about the specific electric vehicles they are considering but about EVs in general.
It’s imperative that dealerships educate their staff about how EVs run, how charging works, what the various charging options are, and every other aspect of EV ownership a potential buyer may ask about.
It may be as easy as incentivizing EV ownership within the dealership so team members have first-hand knowledge they can share with customers. An alternative approach may be loaning an EV to team members, so they can test drive and experience driving an EV on their route home and to work for a few days. Owning or semi-owning an EV is an educational experience that can prove irreplaceable!
It’s also likely that vehicle manufacturers and/or dealership associations will have training sessions staff can partake in to get everyone up to speed about EVs in general and the specific EVs they are selling. For example, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has teamed up with the Center for Sustainable Energy and Plug In America to provide training for dealerships.
“The online program will complement model-specific training that original equipment manufacturers are providing as more and more EVs hit our showrooms,” NADA chairman Michael Alford said in a statement about the training. “The program will provide dealership sales teams with the essential content needed to communicate with customers and close EV sales.”
On the maintenance side, vehicle manufacturers may provide training courses for their EVs. Many colleges and post-secondary technical schools provide programs for EV technicians. For example, Northeast Texas Community College now offers an EV maintenance certification program.
Convey your expertise
Training and education will be instrumental to adapting to the EV-centric world, but a transition in thinking is also required.
Since everyone has been living with ICE vehicles for so long, we all tend to think of them as the default. For example, since they run on gasoline or diesel and there are gas stations virtually everywhere, it’s not really necessary to talk with buyers about where and how they’ll fuel up.
But with EVs, it’s important to understand your customers’ living situation, as that will play a role in their ability to reliably charge their vehicles.
You may want to suggest to homeowners that they invest in a Level 2 home charging station to speed up charging, for example. (But, if those customers own a home governed by a homeowners association, they should consult their property bylaws to see if that is allowed.)
Apartment dwellers, on the other hand, will likely need to know where their local public chargers are so they can reliably charge their vehicles. (Something you can find out by using the new and improved Blink Charging app.)
Salespeople should learn all they can about EVs, like how cold weather affects battery life, how much driving range customers actually need, the approximate fuel savings a driver can expect versus an ICE vehicle, what type of vehicle will fit a customer’s driving habits and living situation, and the financing and insurance options available for EVs.
Learn about your manufacturer’s incentives, government purchase incentives for EVs and become as proficient as you can in the language of EVs (kilowatt hours, amps, volts, range, etc) so you can communicate clearly with your potential customers.
Dealerships are at the forefront of the transition to EVs and customers are going to rely on them to help navigate this new world. With proper education and training, dealerships should have no problem transitioning to an EV-led world and helping their customers make the transition right along with them.
Rely on our experience and see more detailed information on how we can help your dealership facility go electric!